Feb 23, 2008

hate crime enhancements and plea bargaining

Reading this Village Voice article on a particular hate crime negotiation, I was struck by an aspect of the law that I should have seen earlier. Hate crime enhancements, in certain circumstances, greatly increase the bargaining power of the prosecution. Which brings us right back to the plea bargaining debate.

LDers arguing the hate crime resolution should check out the article, which not only illuminates this issue, but provides a concrete example of the difficulty of defining the law's protected classes.


le radical galoisien said...

I find it curious that none of the additional remedies for hate crime charges include rehabbing out the hate. Maybe it's not a Hannah Montana concert, but what about being forced to listen to subliminal audio recordings in your cell about how you're a dirty, evil bigot and you should be ashamed for yourself -- for all ten years of your prison sentence?

I am half-joking of course, since forced counselling would probably be more effective. (Though I do wonder that can at all be a serious remedy.)

Most prisons tend to be self-organised along racial lines anyway -- (well, unless you live in a 99% white state like me) -- and the irony to this whole idea is that if you don't enter prison as a racist, you have a strong chance of coming out as one, since you're forced to be identify with racism just to survive. So perhaps this "remedy" should be imposed on all racial gang members. (But I digress.)

But again, it does remind me -- if I gang-assaulted a man with a sharpened toothbrush in prison because he was a member of a rival racial gang, does that make it a hate crime?

Would it be meaningful for Aff to bring up such a question in cross-ex, etc. when trying to grill neg on the definition of a hate crime?

I suppose we can argue that there are many reasons to select individuals based on their membership of a protected class, which is not necessarily out of hate per se. I may be just plain greedy -- a certain race may be associated with being wealthy or advantageous, etc.

Furthermore, racial tensions are not necessarily totally irrational (though they be misguided in blanket logic). If one grows up in an environment full of ethnic strife and racial conflict (which I expect happens in many inner cities), it wouldn't be uncommon to develop an "us vs. them" attitude.

Jim Anderson said...

Your remedy isn't so far-fetched. For example, from California's penal code, under some conditions of probation, some criminals may be obliged to...

(1) Complete a class or program on racial or ethnic sensitivity, or other similar training in the area of civil rights, or a one-year counseling program intended to reduce the tendency toward violent and antisocial behavior if that class, program, or training is available and was developed or authorized by the court or local agencies in cooperation with organizations serving the affected community.

(2) Make payments or other compensation to a community-based program or local agency that provides services to victims of hate violence.

(3) Reimburse the victim for reasonable costs of counseling and other reasonable expenses that the court finds are the direct result of the defendant's acts.

Justin said...

Does advocating rehab instead of prison sentencing actually negate the resolution?

b/c rehab could be an enhancement no?

That brings me to another question of just what "enhancements" mean. Does it only come in the form of an increased sentence?

Jim Anderson said...

anonymous, an enhancement, in almost every state sentencing scheme, and especially in the US sentencing guidelines, is an extended prison sentence, or, in rare cases, the death penalty. The California example, above, is a condition of probation, not an enhancement.

As I see it, advocating rehab as a more appropriate consequence would be a form of affirming the resolution. Your criterion could be restorative justice.

Jim Anderson said...

(Oops--justin, not anonymous.)

Anonymous said...

I have been workin on my cases for a while now and i cant seem to get anywhere. I need some help. so far all ive got is V: Justice. VC: Human Rights and My first contention: Penalty Enhancements fail in the administration of justice. HELPP!!!